If you love your children and want what’s best for them, you deserve to get joint custody in divorce. Joint custody, which involves parents sharing physical and/or legal custody of their children, has become the most popular arrangement for divorcing parents. In fact, most judges prefer to force parents in a joint custody arrangement during divorce unless serious issues arise. Rather than engaging in a custody battle in divorce, many parents are agreeing to share custody of their children so both can play roles in upbringing. If this sounds like an appealing option, a family law attorney can provide assistance. And any one of the experienced family law attorneys that you will speak to here can help you get joint custody during your divorce.
What Exactly is Joint Custody in Divorce Anyways?
Physical custody, (also known as residential custody), is the right to live with the child and many divorced parents are now sharing physical custody of their children. The right to make decisions about the life of the child is called legal custody and in joint legal custody arrangements, parents share in this decision-making. This allows both adults to have a say in how their children are raised. If you are granted joint custody in your divorce, this means that both parents will have decision making abilities as to how the children are raised, and this greatly increases the likelihood that the divorce will have a negative impact on the children.
Courts can grant child custody during divorce before the divorce paperwork is finalized. In fact, custody may be granted whenever two parents do not reside together. Courts base their decisions on several factors including the needs of the child, housing arrangements, career, and lifestyle choices of the parents. Depending on these aspects, they may grant joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or both. However, without the proper legal representation, a judge may order one parent to have sole custody of the children, and this can spell disaster for the other parent.
Since family law courts view it as detrimental to the children, most courts will not grant sole custody in divorce unless one parent is either deemed unfit or the residential parent claims that they do not get a long with the other parent. For example, if one parent is uncooperative, dependent on drugs or alcohol, or has a history of abuse, the other parent may be awarded sole custody. But courts often grant sole custody for much less than this – sometimes they do so if the parties simply disagree on a few small issues! In most other situations, parents share physical custody of their children and arrange parenting schedules around their work and other commitments.
Even if one parent is granted primary physical custody of the children, the other parent is likely to receive generous visitation rights and share legal custody. This is where it pays to have a good family law attorney – there is no substitute for an advocate that will fight for your rights when it comes to getting joint custody in divorce. This requires the parents to work out a visitation schedule and come to agreement on major issues regarding the welfare and upbringing of the children. A parent who is unwilling to accept this arrangement should retain a divorce attorney for child custody help. The divorce lawyer will put together a case supporting joint custody and present this to the court.
Getting joint custody in divorce does not necessarily require going to court in all states. With the help of mediators, counselors, or attorneys, parents can decide on custody arrangements themselves. Some states require divorcing parents to use mediation to resolve a custody fight during divorce. If parents cannot agree, a court will make the custody decision by following a procedure that involves standard considerations and adherence to several common principles. Don’t let yourself become a victim and lose the chance to get joint custody during your divorce, start setting up a positive case for yourself right away by making positive life decisions and of course, seeking the right legal help from an experienced divorce attorney.